Caribou County farmer Jason Stoddard is one of many Eastern Idaho seed potato growers who have been stuck with lots of spuds that will never be planted due to the COVID-19 crisis. Commercial potato farmers throughout the state have canceled seed orders, having had their contracts with processors scaled back due to lost food service demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus has disrupted the global potato market like no other single event before it, but there are some signs things settling at least a new normal, according to Cedric Porter, editor of World Potato Markets. World Potato Markets has just published its annual review of production, prices and trade. Potato News Today readers can enjoy a special purchase rate.
Australian potato growers are digging in for an anti-dumping fight with Europe as it reportedly threatens to flood the local market with frozen French fries. AUSVEG said potato growers faced big losses if large volumes of processed potatoes were imported from Europe as a consequence of a €650 million ($1.08 billion) COVID-19 assistance package.
Caribou County farmer Jason Stoddard is one of many Eastern Idaho seed potato growers who have been stuck with lots of spuds that will never be planted due to the COVID-19 crisis. Commercial potato farmers throughout the state have canceled seed orders, having had their contracts with processors scaled back due to lost food service demand amid the pandemic. Industry officials estimate roughly 40 million pounds of Idaho seed potatoes have gone unsold or been returned to seed growers.
With prices and supply facing uncertainty due to lockdowns and high, panicked demand especially in the APAC region after the COVID-19 outbreak, it might be expected that potatoes would be able to benefit somewhat here – but in reality, there have been multiple factors hindering this opportunity, according to International Potato Center Asia Regional Director Samarendu Mohanty.
With restaurants closed due to COVID-19, the potato industry in Canada has taken a big hit. Lukie Pieterse, editor and publisher of Potato News Today joined guest host Heather Morrison of CBC Saskatchewan to talk about the impact the pandemic has had on the industry.
President Trump yesterday held a press event at the White House to announce the details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The potato industry has advocated for two distinct programs to provide relief to family farms impacted by this crisis. “Over the past two months, the U.S. potato industry has urged USDA to move quickly to help clear product out of the supply chain and support family farmers with direct support,” said NPC President Britt Raybould.
Statistics New Zealand said today that prices rose 18 per cent in April to a weighted average price of $2.51 per kilo – an all-time high. “Higher demand and a shortage of potato pickers, many of whom stayed home due to fear of the COVID-19 virus, could explain this large price increase,” consumer prices manager Bryan Downes said.
As of now, potato farmers in Wisconsin haven’t been hit too bad by the coronavirus. They’re going to be hit this Fall, according to a report by WHBL Radio. The problem for Wisconsin growers is that a lot of the state’s potatoes have gone to the fresh produce side of the industry. That’s totally fine for now, but once Fall hits and you have the potatoes from the Midwest and the ones coming from the Western states, it’s going to be an issue.
Australian potato farmers Susie and Gerard Daly were named Farmers of the Year in 2019, and the exposure from the win has boosted their business. The family runs a potato farm in Dunalley, on Tasmania’s south-east coast, and has spent the past couple of months ramping up their business amid increasing demand due to COVID-19. “For us it’s been a godsend, in that people are staying at home and cooking so we saw the fresh potato market increase by 40 per cent nationally in the first month of the epidemic,” Ms Daly said.
Gourmet potatoes favoured by top chefs and typically found only on the menus of high-end restaurants are to go on sale in Tesco this week to avoid them going to waste, according to news report by The Guardian in the UK. The move aims to ease a glut of fresh potatoes in the UK, with thousands of tonnes unused since the government ordered the closure of hospitality businesses on 23 March.
Many industries have faced changes due to COVID-19, including potato growers. With the Great Trentham Spudfest in Victoria, Australia cancelled earlier this month due to coronavirus restrictions, the region’s growers were left without one of their biggest opportunities of the year to sell their produce. But they, along with other growers around Ballarat, have all found ways to continue selling their potatoes to the public.
“Pivoting” is a term that has been thrown around by entrepreneurs as they try to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. But Jose Magsaysay Jr., founder and chairman emeritus of the food kiosk pioneer Potato Corner, pivoting is not always the solution for crumbling businesses. “You pivot depending on your resources. Look into yourself before you pivot. Am I a player now in this crisis? If I’m not and I don’t have the money to pivot, I will just conserve, stop what I’m doing, and spot trends,” he said during a webinar organized by the Philippine Franchise Association on Thursday.
Britain’s farmers are struggling to work out what to do with tens of thousands of tonnes of spare potatoes when their season ends this summer after the closure of fish and chip shops during the lockdown triggered a collapse in demand.
A $4.7 million provincial program developed in conjunction with the Prince Edward Island provincial government and Cavendish Farms should help deal with a surplus of potatoes accumulating in the warehouses of processing growers, says the general manager of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board in Canada. However, there is concern in some quarters about the fact that all of the funds are destined for the processing company. The district director of the National Farmers Union said the deal raises “a lot of red flags.”
The Netherlands has begun supplying potatoes, originally intended for processing, to the Ukraine. Despite the fact that these varieties are not intended for fresh consumption, the processing potatoes from the Netherlands sell well on the fresh market in the Ukraine, mostly because these potatoes are of high quality, while it is sold at prices similar to local Ukrainian potatoes.
In a province that boasts one of the largest potato production regions in Canada, the surplus of potatoes waiting in storage due to COVID-19 is a major issue. Officials say that surplus is now impacting future crops. Potatoes that remain in storage past September will have to be thrown out completely. The Potato Growers of Alberta projects the loss to producers at around $26 million, with another $5 to $6 million loss to seed growers alone.
The amount of potatoes in storage for Canada’s processing sector is 4.2 per cent above the three-year average as of May 1, 2020, according to the United Potato Growers of Canada’s (UPGC) latest update. The UPGC attributes the higher numbers to the COVID-19 pandemic which has “had a dramatic effect on french fry sales as sit-down portions of quick service and fast casual restaurants were closed.” The Potato Growers of Alberta estimates about $60 to $70 million worth of processing potatoes are still in storage.
As a staple food with a long shelf life, potatoes are currently among the favourites on consumers’ shopping lists. The potato market in Germany and throughout Europe is benefiting from this. On the other hand, sales in the catering trade have slumped sharply due to the closure – especially processed potato products are suffering as a result. Valentin Beckmann, from Maurer Parat LLC, in Germany answered questions about the potato market.
‘It’s millions of dollars sitting there’: Maine potato industry hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic
With restaurants, cafeterias, fairs, sporting events, and countless other events closed—or just starting to open with fewer seats – Maine potato farmers are feeling the pressure from the coronavirus pandemic. Many farmers are trying to sell the larger potatoes they have in stock to retail stores like Hannaford. Hannaford has seen success with the Maine product in its 183 stores throughout New England. But many farmers are not able to repackage for retail sales.